Thursday, July 2, 2009

District Court Bans 'Catcher In The Rye' Sequel; Since When Did The US Ban Books?; TechDirt, 7/2/09

Mike Masnick via TechDirt; District Court Bans 'Catcher In The Rye' Sequel; Since When Did The US Ban Books?:

"The rest of the discussion on the four factors fair use test is rather troubling...

Stunningly, the judge even points out that the stories have similar arcs (which isn't surprising), but to claim that because of a similar story arc there's infringement is incredibly troubling for pretty much any writer. After all, people write stories with similar arcs all the time.

Finally, and perhaps most disturbing of all, is her finding on the fourth prong, concerning the impact on the market for the copyrighted work, she actually finds that this weighs against fair use. Again, the logic simply does not add up. The judge admits that it probably would not negatively impact the actual demand for Catcher in the Rye, she actually ignores the fact that the opposite would likely occur. If anything, it will drive more people to go out and buy copies of the original to read (or, more likely in many cases to re-read) to go along with this new book. The judge's reasoning is that this book would harm the market for an actual sequel, but again, that's difficult to square with reality. If JD Salinger announced he was writing a sequel... that would make tremendous news, and it would be quite clear that people would rush to get the "real" sequel. Even if he were to license it (which appears to be the judge's main concern) to someone else to write (which seems insanely unlikely given Salinger's actions to date), people would quickly learn of the "authorized" vs. "unauthorized" versions. It's difficult to see how it would harm the market at all.

This is a very troubling ruling that seems to go against the very basics of copyright law in many, many ways. Hopefully, the ruling does not stand for very long."

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